2011 was a great year for music! Despite what some prognosticators say…I DO NOT believe the music industry is dead. On the contrary, there was great music across the board this year from all genres…from electronica to pop to rock to alternative to instrumental. You name it, there was lots of it. Some was easily accessible. Some you had to go find yourself. But there was a lot to select from and honestly…I probably coulda done a Top 100 with no problem! Here they are…MY top 50 songs of 2011. What a year it was….
#50: Snow Patrol – “Called Out In The Dark” (alternative)
The new album won’t be released until 2012 but this early release single shows a lot of potential for the band mostly known for their musical appearances on “Grey’s Anatomy.” It has an uplifting message and I like the beat. Nice start…
#49: Radiohead – “Seperator” (alternative)
Oh so dreamy song from the “The King Of Limbs” and easily its best track. No one does dream rock quite like Thom Yorke.
#48: Lowline – “Suicide” (rock)
I “discovered” this band back in the early summer and their debut album ROCKS! This track was the first that grabbed me and shook me around. Love to drive to this one…
#47: Social Distortion – “Bakersfield” (blues rock)
A strong album released last January from this California rock band and this slow burn of a song is my favorite on the album! Funny…I feel like this a lot…
#46: Jane’s Addiction – “Ultimate Reason” (alternative)
Although not the strongest album by this classic alternative rock outfit, their latest, “The Great Escape Artist,” had a few good tracks and this was my favorite. Thanks to Perry Ferrell for keeping the dream alive!
#45: Wiz Khalifa – “Black & Yellow” (rap)
The Steelers went to the Super Bowl (and lost) and this was the mantra as they beat the snot out of everyone else in the AFC. Hometown boy Wiz trumps it up and roots for the hometeam…
#44: Dum Dum Girls – “Bedroom Eyes” (alternative)
Sounding a lot like Chrissie Hynde, lead singer Dee Dee Penny cranks up the heat in this little ditty. It’s 60’s pop rock at its best!
#43: Wild Flag – “Romance” (rock)
An all-girl band that rocks! With influences ranging from all over the place and lots of guitar work, Carrie Brownstein brings her unique sound over from Sleater-Kinney and jams on it!
#42: City And Colour – “Fragile Bird” (alternative)
Straight from the great north, Canadian rocker Dallas Green goes a little soft on us. Little known fact…the name of the band comes from HIS name…Dallas (city) and Green (colour).
#41: Jeff Bridges – “What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do” (country)
Bridges takes his Bad Blake character one step further and with the help of T-Bone Burnett cranks out this simple yet effective classic country tune.
#40: Max Rafferty – “Go Down Easy” (alternative)
This nice little acoustic track from the Kooks’ lead singer is a haunting song that sounds like it was produced in a tunnel. Very effective use of reverb without losing Rafferty’s vocals.
#39: Maroon 5 – “Moves Like Jagger” (pop)
I know, I know…seriously? But damn if this song doesn’t just stick in my head. And having Christina Aguilera doesn’t hurt it one bit.
#38: Girl In A Coma – “Smart”
Another product from the great state of Texas. This little known band has opened for Morrisey, Social Distortion, Frank Black & Tegan & Sara. Time for them to make an impact on their own, doncha think?
#37: Thievery Corporation – “Culture Of Fear” (rap/trip hop)
This band has been around for a while and for this track, they enlist political rapper Mr. Lif to slam on the man. Damn the man!
#36: Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks” (alt-pop)
Yes…it got played to death. But it doesn’t take away the fact that I was listening to this song WAY before pop radio got its hands on it.
#35: Gavin DeGraw – “Not Over You” (pop)
Sad little pop song with a killer hook. DeGraw hits this one out of the park…even if he does lose his heart in the process.
#34: PT Walkley – “Save The World” (alternative)
Wikipedia says Walkley is “regarded by many as one of the top truly independent artists of his time.” I don’t know about that but what I DO know is that this song is AWESOME! May be one of my most listened to tracks of this year…
#33: Peter Bjorn & John – “Second Chance” (pop)
Catchy as hell, this song bounces all over the place and fills your ear with bubblegum pop goodness!
#32: Paul Simon – “The Afterlife” (adult contemporary)
Ever wonder what happens to us after we die? Paul Simon does…and he wrote a song about it. Purgatory has never seemed so much like the DMV…
#31: Manchester Orchestra – “Leave It Alone” (rock)
A very bleak look at a trouble relationship. The song has emotional resonance and sticks with me.
#30: Kurt Vile – “Puppet To The Man” (alternative)
Vile has had a great year with Spin listing his 4th album as one of the best this year. I’ve downloaded several tracks but this is my favorite. We may be underdogs but we’ll get by folks…
#29: The Kooks – “Rosie” (alt-pop)
Sometimes I just like a good pop song and the Kooks are pretty good at producing power pop alternative rock hooks that can stick to your ear like hair gel. Wonder what I’m talking about? Yeah…me too. But I like this track.
#28: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow” (rock)
Who writes lyrics like this anymore…?
You can holler, you can wail
You can swing, you can flail
You can fuck like a broken sail
But I’ll never give you up
If I ever give you up my heart will surely fail
And after all God can keep my soul
England have my bones
But don’t ever give me up
I could never get back up when the future starts so slow
Apparently The Kills do…and they are awesome!
#27: Foo Fighters – “Bridge Burning” (rock)
Oh come on. A Top 50 without the Foo Fighters would seem just…so…empty. And this leadoff track to their latest album, “Wasting Light,” is the bombastic thrill that only Dave Grohl can produce.
#26: Flo Rida – “Good Feeling” (rap pop)
This is NOT your typical rap song which is why I like it this much! It builds slowly and then smacks you in the face with it’s heavy trippy bounce. A good anthem for any sports arena!
#25: David Nail – “Let It Rain” (country)
Nail nails it as far as a country album goes. His “The Sound Of A Million Dreams” is what pulled me back into the country scene and I love it! This song was the first track to be released and it soars with the pain & guilt of a one night stand. And if THAT doesn’t make a good country song, I don’t know what does.
#24: David Guetta featuring Chris Brown & Lil Wayne – “I Can Only Imagine” (rap/pop)
I dare you to turn it off. Catchy as hell from the DJ who is the hottest thing this side of sliced bread and when the song drops out at 1:15 it gets nasty…
#23: The Black Keys – “Gold On The Ceiling” (blues rock)
The little band that could from Akron, OH is winning over EVERYBODY with their blues rock sound and this song is as funky as they get with fuzzy guitars and grungy vocals.
#22: Gotye – “Easy Way Out” (alternative)
Wally De Backer is an indie darling and he sure knows how to layer a song…and this song soars. If you like the band Spoon, you’ll totally dig Gotye. I struggle with which song to choose for this list because, quite frankly, the entire album is excellent. But I’m going with this one because I like the lyrics and the texture of the background vocals.
#21: Blue October – “The Honesty” (alternative)
I have to be honest…taking ANY track from the latest album by this band is a like stealing a part from an engine. They all work in unison to make a classic album that is so honest and brutal that it was hard to select just one. But this track is indicative of what the rest of the album is like and it could be a the most “honest” of all of them.
#20: Chickenfoot – “Come Closer” (rock)
What do you get when you throw a bunch of classic rockers together from Van Halen and Red Hot Chili Peppers? An amazing song about a struggling relationship is probably NOT what you would think. But this song works wonders and is a perfect vehicle for all of them to showcase their abilities.
#19: Future Islands – “Balance” (alternative)
I don’t know anything about this band and this song was a part of a bunch of free tunes I got from Spin magazine but it immediately caught my ear and now I can’t STOP listening to it. Like Frightened Rabbit on soda pop, it has this odd lilting sound to it that keeps me hooked.
#18: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Record Machine” (pop rock)
Half of Oasis went to Beady Eye, the other half made an album so good that it can be considered a classic. This song has Oasis written all over it, from the soaring vocals to the backing guitars. The Birds fly pretty high and I would pay big money to hear it live in a huge arena. And THAT is really what rock n roll is all about.
#17: Mat Kearney – “Ships In The Night” (pop)
Know the joke about hallway sex? If you do, then this track elaborates on that. Just…not in a funny way.
#16: Friendly Fires – “Show Me Lights” (electronic alternative)
This song is right up there with “Second Chance” as the catchiest songs of 2011. Dunno what they’re talking about but the song rocks!
#15: MuteMath – “Tell Your Heart Heads Up” (alternative rock)
Although their latest album isn’t as strong as “Armistice,” it still offers a few songs that are as good as anything released by any other band this year. I love the pace of this one…
#14: Active Child – “Hanging On” (alternative)
If there is one song that sounds almost religious in its presentation, it’s this one. But it’s about a bad relationship (again) and the vocals are painful and haunting at the same time.
#13: Mumford & Sons – “The Cave” (alternative)
This one is a layup. One of the best tracks of the year…as voted by just about everyone.
#12: Katie Cole – “Gravity” (rock)
You might not know her yet, but this singer/songwriter from Melbourne, Australia will be lighting it up in 2012. This song I found while watching a wristwatch commercial on television and I HAD to find out who sang it. Turns out it was Katie. And she’s awesome!
#11: Wye Oak – “Civilian” (alternative)
This track has the most blistering guitar solo of the year midway through it. I can’t seem to turn my stereo up loud enough when it comes on.
#10: Raphael Saadiq – “Heart Attack” (funky R&B)
This is old skool at the heart of it but it sounds so fresh that you can’t help but wonder where you’ve heard it before. Saadiq returns to the roots of funk and gets brilliant.
#9: The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” (rock)
With their fuzzy guitar and hot back beat this song makes me wanna dance. And for a white guy, that’s pretty damn funky.
#8: David Nail – “She Rides Away” (country)
Oh look who’s back. Country artist Nail has said that he didn’t even think he wanted to record this song and it is my favorite song on the album. Arena country rock that has me seeing a woman driving her El Camino in the desert, leaving her man in her dust. Odd imagery but that’s what I got…
#7: Teddybears – “Rocket Scientist” (dance)
I dare you to put this on and NOT shake your butt. Go ahead…DOUBLE dare ya…
#6: Gym Class Heroes – “Ass Back Home” (pop rap)
In many cases, music is a soundtrack to my life. In the case of this song, it is a reflection of my life on the road. Much like last year’s “The Wind”, this man in this song is very much like myself…on the road a lot and trying to keep his relationship intact. Tough stuff for a pop rap outfit but this song nails it.
#5: R.E.M. – “It Happened Today” (alternative)
How much am I gonna miss Michael Stipe and the boys? After retiring a few months ago, I broke out this CD and wore it out…again. It’s a fitting ending for an amazing band that has been a staple in my music collection for decades. And this song has Stipe and Co. singing to the heavens…
#4: Joe Bonamassa – “Dust Bowl” (blues)
Listening to this song makes you feel as if you’re walking through the desert in search of a cold drink when you find yourself in a dirty old cactus town. There, over at the corner bar, you ask for a bottle of whiskey…and this guy is playing on the jukebox. And yes…it is EXACTLY like that.
#3: Nicki Minaj – “Super Bass” (rap pop)
This song will forever remind me of the summer of 2011. Nicki was only a backup voice until this song shot her into the upper echelon of today’s pop rap artists. There wasn’t a catchier rap track on the radio this year…
#2: The Raveonettes – “Ignite” (alternative)
Something about this Danish duet that does it for me. I don’t know if it’s the fuzzy guitar or the distorted vocals or just the vibe but The Raveonettes are about as cool a band as you can ask for these days. This song never got any airplay but it is a classic. If there ever was a great simple song about longing and unrequited love, this is it.
#1: Beastie Boys – “Here’s A Little Something For Ya” (rap)
The REAL Beasties have returned and their latest album saw them return to their roots. For those about to party, feel free to put on the ultimate party jam. With classic rap lines and a beat that kills it, the Boys give you a song that you can blow out your speakers and that’ll make your tires bounce. Here’s the Beastie Boys with the best song of 2011. And if ya feelin’ chilly I’m gonna get ya a shawl…